(Click on photos to launch slideshows)
Delightful donkeys, mules light up Kythnos trails
Donkeys and mules are a regular feature on our walks across Kythnos, the Greek island near to Athens. Many work hard in between a pause in a field. Many crave the company of another of their species and also become attached to their owners. Some like being hugged around the neck. All the same, they will happily bite your hand or even your bum if you are not careful. So stay attentive.
Lizards, snakes are benign reptile species on Kythnos nature tour
Among reptiles, lizards and geckos are frequently seen on wildlife tours organised by Kythnos Hiking (www.kythnoshiking.com). Often they have a prehistoric likeness to dinosaurs, albeit in miniature. Less easily seen are snakes, which are more frightened of humans than we of them, and will scurry away at the sound of footsteps. However a patient quiet pause can reward with a fine photo of a scaly snake. Frogs are often seen in watery pools and heard all day unseen in valleys. Our naturalist Davd Koutsogiannopoulos has supplied the photos from a previous visit. The slideshow presents just a small sample of the reptiles seen on our Greek island. Booking for our next six-day wildlife tour on Kythnos can be found here.
Top birds to see on Kythnos, particularly in spring
Spring in March and April is one of the best times of the year to view wildlife on the Greek island of Kythnos. Apart from hiking (www.kythnoshiking.com) we organise nature tours to spot migratory birds, view the prolific flowers, our varied reptiles, and insects. We start this series of slideshows with a selection of the birds of prey that migrate or are more resident on the island. Then some of the more regular bird inhabitants. Booking for our nature tour on 28 March 2022 can be found on www.kythnoshiking.com.
Rare fritillary, orchid flowers flourish in Kythnos spring
The end of March/start of April - is the occasion to see many exotic flowers such a orchids and fritillaries as well as pretty wildflowers as spring comes to the Greek island of Kythnos and nature wakes up. All the photos in this slideshow are supplied by our naturalist David Koutsgiannopoulos who will be guiding two wildlife tours on the island in the weeks 21 and 28 March 2022. The first tour is being run for the UK nature operator www.greentours.co.uk and is followed by Kythnos Hiking's own tour (www.kythnoshiking.com).
Cheese, honey, wine lead Kythnos farming activity
Farming remains an active way of life even if other activities have grown too in the recent decades. Goats and sheep are prized for their milk and meat, though there are doubts over the value of sheep wool. There are many producers of cheese even if only a couple have permits to produce in modern healthy conditions with stainless steel equipment. That is not say that artisanally-produced cheese is not safe if it has been produced and consumed for many years without any problems. Honey has become a popular fad with hives springing up on many hillsides even if only a handful are licensed with some of those committing to ecological norms. Equally wine has only one professional producer against a multitude of home producers, some better than others. Bon appetit.
Multitude of churches reflect Kythnos's religious fervour
Churches are everywhere on Kythnos, the Greek island. The two traditional villages, Hora and Dryopida, host some large churches. By the sea, the Panaghia Kanala is the church of the Virgin Mary, the patron saint and protector of the island. In addition there are several disused monasteries dotted around the island. Small churches abound, built where farmers looked for God's protection near to their place of work. Most churches still hold an annual festival on their saint's day. There is no accurate count of how many churches there are on the island but it must be well over 100.
Kythnos sea kayak, snorkel ideal mid-day break in heat
Kythnos, the Greek island, gets hot in July and August and we aim to start walking early and finish late. This allows time in the middle of the day to laze on the beach, burnish the suntan, swim in the cool clean water, or indulge in one of the water sports available on the island. We can organise for you sea kayaking at Apokrousi beach and snorkel, usually at Aghios Stephanos beach where there are a couple of shipwrecks in the bay. Our programme does not allow time for more in-depth underwater activities with Aquateam (www.aquakythnos.com) but the dive centre can organise scuba for those staying on. Also available on Kanala beach is massage with oils such as Thai. Greek woman Kelly is an excellent masseuse and also offers stand-up paddle board (SUP) and yoga, sometimes the two combined together. This slideshow gives an idea of the offerings.
Highs of Kastro Orias reveal slice of Kythnos history
The hike to Kastro Orias is one of our most popular trails on the Greek island of Kythnos. Walking from Hora and back also makes it one of the longest that we do. From the intermediate point of Loutra port the trail rises to the ruins of the castle about 200 metres above sea level on a spectacular headland that made it impregnable until 1570 when the Turks tricked their way into the castle and laid it to waste. This slideshow reveals the exciting paths up to Orias, the gateway into the compound, a restored church, the ruined buildings and the one remaining church ruin and its frescos.
Serifos walks entertain with history and culture
The launch of walking on Serifos, Kythnos's island neighbour in the western Cycladic Greek chain, has been a joy for our guests. Staying in a beach hotel is an added benefit along with demanding walks across the island. Sandy beaches on Serifos are plentiful while the island boasts a working monastery, industrial archeology, and a professional wine producer. The Hora village on the hill above the port with the remains of its Venetian castle is magisterial and an easy walk. More slideshows that detail the individual daily walks can be found at https://www.kythnoshiking.com/programm/serifos-island.html.
Music, culture keep Kythnos's strong traditions alive
Traditional culture and particularly music play an important part in Kythnos life. During spring and summer months the Greek island sees many informal concerts as well as panagiri, church festival events. Occasionally Kythnos hosts events for musicians and dancers from the mainland and other Aegean islands. The principal instruments played are a violin accompanied by a lute. However, music is also played with the stringed sandouri, tapped with two stick-like beaters, and the tsabouna, a bagpipe-type instrument. The resulting music is the foundation for dances, including the Kythnos Balos. Most summers the island festival will host musicians and dancers showing off their skills.
Kythnos has most beaches in Greek Cycladic islands
The Greek island of Kythnos has more beaches than any other island in the Cycladic group, according to one Greek tourist authority official. The municipality counts nearly 100, though obviously this number includes various short beaches, often hidden away in secret locations. This slideshow reveals a sample of some of the best known and more developed plus some of the more isolated to discover. The beaches appear in clockwise order starting from the port of Merichas (not shown).
Vryokastro finds show off Kythnos's ancient history
The Vryokastro ancient city site on Greek island Kythnos is around 2500 years old. Alexandros Mazarakis, a professor of archeology at the University of Thessaly, has excavated the Vryokastro site for 30 years often with students from Thessaly, the US and France. Recent excavation at the Asklepios/Aphrodite temples included finds in a large adjacent cistern. In the latest period digging has focused on the port and its neighbouring island where there is evidence of habitation before and after the ancient city. Mazarakis will be the curator of the archeological museum of Kythnos in the Hora which will set up in a renovated town building.
Traditional Kythnos villages host walkers across Greek island
Walkers are usually based in Hora or Dryopida traditional villages and where most walks start. Much of each village is pedestrianised with shops in the main narrow street and housing behind. Whitewashed buildings house hotels, rooms, bars, taverna, and ice cream shops.